Hold it in for a bit longer folks!

Mar 09, 2023
Hold it in for a bit longer folks!

Bike Auckland

Bike Auckland have been strong supporters of Te Whau Pathway since the first parts of the pathway were built in 2015. One day Te Whau Pathway, like Tāmaki Drive, will be a jewel in Auckland’s cycling network. But for now, after years of planning – and construction actually starting in Te Pae Kawau (Rotary Reserve) in Te Atatū South in November! – the pathway has been “paused”. Check out the Olympic Park sculpture loop and the paths through Archibald Park; they are completed sections of Te Whau Pathway.

In this guest post, Bike Te Atatū’s Melanie Dixon and Simone Bähr explain why this project needs to continue, starting with the most pressing need – toilets. These aren’t often a common part of cycling infrastructure chat but they’re important when your daily commute can be up to an hour long.

You can signal your support for Te Whau Pathway to the Auckland Council through the Auckland Budget have your say. Read on to find out how.

Can you tell me where the toilets are please?

Good news fellow cyclists! Construction on Te Whau Pathway began in November 2022. Two construction sites were set up, staff and materials at the ready.

Bad news: Come December, the project was “paused”. The sites – including staff offices, infrastructure and fenced security – are now ghost towns.

The Number One reason this stinks for the cyclists using the North Western Cycleway is … Number Ones. It can be a long commute, the North Western, even on your finest Auckland day and on your fastest e-bike. But no toilets as far as the eye can see, once Waterview is in your wake.

One of the pressing benefits of these sections of Te Whau Pathway being built this year was a link to the public toilets behind Te Atatū Boat Club. This small section will make a quick loo-loop just that – a minute there and a minute back from our beloved North Western Cycleway.

The latest public toilets in Auckland cost $3.7 million. The Te Atatū South section of Te Whau Pathway gives us North Western Cycleway cyclists loos for free – they’re already there! Just not used because they’re such an annoying detour. At the moment they’re very inconvenient conveniences.

So now the Council is asking you to hold your wee even longer – for six months! – while they continue to deliberate about what to do with the project.

And the Number 2 Reason the Project Pause stinks? Well that’s a right royal Number 2.

Your money down the toilet

There are two sections of pathway that were going to be completed this year:
1. A connection from the Northwestern cycleway to Roberts Field in Te Atatū (the “loo loop”); and
2. A bridge connecting Avondale to Kelston

Stuff recently reported that “$4m of Crown money had already been spent on the project, and if it didn’t proceed, not only would Auckland not get the pathway, but it risked having to refund the $4m, and lose the entire $35m contribution.”

But human waste jokes – and wasted taxpayers’ money – aside, let’s talk about the other reasons Te Whau Pathway needs to happen. And why it needs to happen now.

Te Whau Pathway is key to West Auckland’s major transport hubs. For people who cycle at the north end, Te Atatū and Glendene, this is the Te Atatū Interchange. For those who cycle at the south end, this is the New Lynn transit station.  Te Whau Pathway will bring people within a flat 5 km bike ride of either hub – servicing over 90,000 West Aucklanders.

There are 38 schools nearby to Te Whau Pathway, providing 18,000 students in the Whau area with a safe, off-road way to get to and from school; giving the chance to have the joy of cycling, walking, wheeling and scootering to school with their friends.

Of course, many people will happily ride more than 5km. They might then use the Pathway to link to the New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path. From here they could use the Waterview to reach the Northwestern and ride all the way into the city centre, or (in the other direction) all the way out to Westgate, or they could follow the Southwestern all the way to Ambury Farm in Māngere Bridge. All the way on safe separated cycleways and without getting stuck in motor traffic. Te Whau Pathway is an incredibly strategic link in the Auckland bike network, a critical link in the chain.

If we don’t have Te Whau Pathway, we’re left with motor-heavy arterial routes like Te Atatū Road and Great North Road. These roads are not for the faint-hearted – and let’s be brutally honest here – a bit dangerous to everyone but experienced cyclists.

Restoring a neglected river 

The pathway design will connect people with the Whau River, a major – but often unknown – West Auckland waterway, by improving access. Currently it mostly can be accessed through a series of dead end roads.

A strong river connection creates a catalyst for extensive planting and weed control along the margins of the Whau – restoring a 15km corridor of Auckland greenway.  Building healthy ecosystems is part of building resilience in cities.

The path is designed with climate change in mind. The boardwalk sections are more than a couple of metres above sea level, making it seaworthy up and past 2070.

Five minutes of your time please

The Annual Budget sets out where the Council plans to spend money in the coming year and how much. It is required by law to consult on the Annual Budget. This year’s consultation closes at 11pm on Tuesday 28 March 2023; make your submission before then. Bike Auckland suggests that in your submission you oppose the proposed changes to the climate action targeted rate and show your support for more investment in walking, cycling, and public transport. You could mention specific projects which are important to you, such as Te Whau Pathway, to bring them to the Council’s attention.
Te Whau Pathway Environment Trust has written a Te Whau Pathway ‘Cheat Sheet’ which guides you through how to show your support for the project in the Auckland Budget have your say consultation. Individual responses are important and could take as little as 5 minutes to complete!

The overall Te Whau Pathway plan is shown here. Area 1 and Area 2 (the rectangles made of orange dotted lines) are the stages of the Te Whau Pathway which are currently being focused on. Area 1. between the Northwestern cycleway and Roberts Field in Te Atatū, and Area 2. a bridge connecting Avondale to Kelston. The Government has provided $35.3 million towards progressing these two areas. However increased construction costs means that the Council will need to allocate an extra amount in its Annual Budget to allow these vital links to continue. You can let the Council know that you support the pathway by including it in your Annual Budget submission.
Image from Te Whau Pathway website.

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